Lizards are pretty cool. And Lizardmen who wield swords and attack in formations are everything my inner nine-year-old could ever hope for. Apparently, Nintendo feels the same way.

Now a staple of the Legend of Zelda’s bestiary, the Lizalfos is one of Link’s most determined, aggressive, and dangerous adversaries and have appeared in the majority of the series’ 3D adventures. 

Princess Zelda’s Study is a series where we examine the history of The Legend of Zelda to bring you some fascinating (or just plain weird) trivia. In our studies, we’ll explore each game’s development, curiosities within the rich lore of the franchise, and the impact it has had on our culture. From time to time, we’ll also look at Nintendo’s past to unearth some facts about our favorite company.

Lizalfos made their debut appearance in Ocarina of Time. These first versions of the reptilian assailants had a very sleek and subtle design and resembled smaller lizards like Anoles. They wore minimal armor and were equipped with gladius-like swords. They were also known (at least I can’t ever forget it) for the shrill squawks they would make when preparing to attack.

Initially showing up halfway through Dodongo’s Cavern as a mid-boss, a pair of these fast and agile reptiles challenged Link in a two-on-one, tag-team battle which acted as an introduction for the player to the game’s close-quarter combat.

So. Very. Annoying.

The Lizalfos returned again in Twilight Princess as a much more prominent adversary. They were actually some of the first enemies shown in the teaser footage and material back in 2004. Their design (which is my personal favorite) was more ferocious and saurian-like, compared to previous and future incarnations.

Fighting patterns of the Lizalfos evolved in Twilight Princess as well. These creatures were more aggressive and would charge head-on at Link in an attempt to quickly catch him off guard and attack with their swords or tail-mounted axes. Their quick and erratic movements coupled with their use of shields made landing a killing blow more of a challenge than their Ocarina of Time counterparts.

I saw my chance to share a picture of a Lizalfos doing a T-Pose and I took it.

Skyward Sword was the next game they appeared in and was where they saw another significant change in their design, particularly in regards to their fighting style. The Lizalfos returned to a slimmer body type, now resembling certain geckos. 

For battle, they use iron gauntlets attached to their arms to attack and defend with. This choice in weapon forced the player to create a strategy to circumvent the gauntlet and find an opening. The Lizalfos of Skyward Sword are first encountered in the Earth Temple, where a pair of them served as the temple’s mini-boss as a reference to their tag-team style from Ocarina of Time.

Somebody’s a Hellboy fan.

Lastly, the latest incarnation of the Lizalfos appeared in Breath of the Wild. They are the most animalistic in appearance, with their design being inspired by real-life chameleons, particularly in regards to their eyes, tongues, and ability to change colors. I’d have to say this close attention to the real-world inspiration resulted in the creepiest version yet.

“These quick-witted, lizard-like monsters can be found all over Hyrule. They’re a sly species that lurks underwater or uses camouflage to blend in with the environment to launch ambushes. Moreover, they never sleep. They’re meat eaters by nature but will enjoy the occasional insect or two.”

— Hyrule Compendium

The Lizalfos are more deliberate with their use of camouflage compared to real lizards, and use this trait to lie in wait for prey in order to launch sneak attacks. Like most enemies in Breath of the Wild, Lizalfos could be found in abundance throughout each region of Hyrule and came in many different varieties.

The extended family of the Lizalfos is also quite large with many variations and sub-species. These include but are not limited to the Dinolfos (or Dynalfos), which appear in Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, and Twilight Princess; the Dark Lizalfos from Skyward Sword¸ and the persistent and frustrating Aeralfos from Twilight Princess. Each type has its own distinct characteristics, such as adapted fighting styles, choice of weapons, and alterations to their physical appearances.

In addition to all of these related species, it is worth mentioning that while very similar in design, the Geru monsters from The Adventure of Link are not actually part of the Lizal family. These creatures, which came in blue, red, and yellow variations, were thought to be the early versions of the Lizalfos, but The Legend of Zelda Encyclopedia confirmed that they are a distinct and separate enemy type.

Apparently the old “Looks like a duck” adage doesn’t apply to this guy.

Also of interesting note and disappointment (at least to me) is that we have yet to see these creatures in the cartoony art style from games like The Wind Waker or Phantom Hourglass. The Aeralfos do appear in Tri Force Heroes as more direct cartoon counterparts to the Twilight Princess version, but a proper Toon version of the regular Lizalfos has been long overdue.

The Lizalfos is a fierce and iconic species that has been a fan favorite for decades. Each new iteration has been memorable whenever encountered in-game and added something new to their uniqueness among the other villains in the series.